A DIRECT question about money has given Beara woman, Ella Harrington, the means to survive lockdown in Northern Italy and to help others into the bargain.
Ella has been in self isolation in her apartment in Vicenza, a city in Veneto – which is ground zero for Covid-19 in Italy – since March 9th.
It was during a radio interview that Ella – who previously worked as an undertaker in Castletownbere – blurted out that she had started a GoFundMe page.
Just months before, Ella had signed a contract and she believed she was all set to continue enjoying the good life in Italy, where she taught English to school children on behalf of a company.
She recalled the horrible dead air when the interviewer asked how she was managing financially.
‘It’s not like it is in Ireland, here, I am not entitled to assistance,’ she said.
Work told her they could not honour her contract and being in a kind of limbo, away from home, she had no idea how she was going to pay next month’s bills.
‘My family didn’t even know!’ she said, ‘I hadn’t mentioned the ‘Ella Covid-19 Italy’ fund because, to be honest, I never thought I’d be “shaking the bucket” for myself.’
Her admission on the airways had its awkward moments, but the upside is that she has raised €6,700, a portion of which will be used to help ‘fill the fridge’ of people who ‘have nothing.’
Ella told The Southern Star: ‘The response has been incredible. I am truly humbled. The kindness of friends and strangers has been overwhelming.’
But just within the last few days, a further worry – in addition to the stringent Italian lockdown conditions – has darkened her door.
She is displaying symptoms: a slight temperature and sore throat, so now she has to be doubly careful.
Ella got in touch with her medical centre and they have ordered no testing, for the moment. ‘I just have to ride it out,’ she said.
It does, however, complicate things because she will no longer be able to walk to the store for groceries.
She is hoping her neighbours will be of some assistance in that regard.
She confided: ‘There are, of course, moments when I give into tears, but I have no sooner succumbed than the phone rings, or someone sends me something funny, and I’m back in good form.
‘Being on lockdown is strange, there is no denying it, but sometimes the greatest challenge is trying to keep the phone charged!
‘These are tough times, but I know things will get better. And there is one thing I am sure of and that is that I want an opportunity to “Pay It Forward”.’
Ella’s Facebook page is filled with comments from the friends she has made all over the world – as well as her family and friends in Beara.
‘Thank you,’ she said, ‘for all for the messages and kindness. You have no idea how much I appreciate it.’
On a more sombre note, Ella said: ‘To say this is a difficult time is an understatement. I hope my friends at home and abroad are taking notice of how serious this is, so that you don’t end up in this situation. The images here are very distressing.
‘My heart goes out to every healthcare worker. They are amazing – not least my brother, Michael, who is a doctor in CUH.’